Many people turn to their iOS devices as a way to catch up on news and consume reading materials, keeping updated with daily happenings. Other than Twitter, there are few options to instantly give a short synopsis of a story or news blurb.
Personally, I use Flipboard, but even it utilizes the entire article. If you are pressed for time or only want the key points of an otherwise much larger article, a new app called Gist is aiming to provide only the quick details of news articles…To play on the pun, Gist.app only provides users the “gist” of an article, news story, or post. According to the developer, Gist uses an algorithm to intelligently summarize most articles into approximately five bullet points. When tapping into a specific article, the app takes a moment to summarize the article into succinct points.
Populating the reader’s list are different pre-selected news sources in particular categories. Categories include top stories, world news, US news, technology, sports, business, spotlight, entertainment, health, and science. Within each section, different news sources are determined by the app. In the technology category, for example, sources include Computerworld, Latin Post, Apple Insider, Digital Trends, TechSpot, and Information Week.
In a clear and concise user interface, Gist provides the key points of an article. If a news topic or source is not listed in the app, users can copy and paste the URL for their intended article into Gist for a summary. However, copy/pasting a URL into the app defeats the simplicity of the transaction. If Gist is going to be an option for power users, there must be a way to add individual sources.
Below is a screenshot of an article about Nelson Mandela from the BBC. As promised, the article is broken into five key bullets. Whether the bullets are actually the most important is for each user to determine, but for comparison’s sake, the full article is available through the BBC website. The article is of considerable length, for only give bullets to accurately capture the story. To view the full site from Gist, simply tap the Full Article button below the summary. If reading isn’t preferred, the app will also read the summaries and at a user defined speed.
Gist allows users to quickly add articles to Safari.app’s built-in reading list for offline viewing, which is convenient. However, linking with other services like Pocket or Instapaper would provide a more robust offering, especially considering Gist is not a free app.
Gist is a great app for users looking for quick and dirty news information from a variety of sources. The topics offered are varied and offer information for most news categories. These options will please the general readership, but potentially leave more detail oriented readers at a loss.
Where Gist leaves me wanting is the ability to customize news locations. It is a great benefit to have long news articles condensed automatically into small snippets. However, if those are not news stories from the sources I personally choose, it is not an app for me personally. I look for Gist to continue growing with popularity. There is a lot of potential with this app, especially for those on-the-go readers with little time to consume an entire article.